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Commentary On Acts Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Acts 19:35-40

35. And when the town-clerk had pacified the multitude, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is he that knoweth not the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image that came down from Jupiter? 36. And seeing these things are out of question, you must be quiet, and do nothing rashly.37. For ye have brought men which are neither church-robbers, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.38. But and if Demetrius and the craftsmen that are with him have a matter against any man, there be open assemblies, and there be deputies: let them accuse one another.39. But and if there be any other matter in question, it shall be decided in a lawful assembly.40. For it is to be doubted lest we be accused of this day's sedition, seeing there is no cause whereby we may give a reason of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he let the assembly depart.

35. Luke showeth in this place that the tumult was so appeased, that yet, notwithstanding, superstition prevailed with the mad people, and the truth of God was not heard. For the town-clerk, as politic men use to do, counteth it sufficient for him if he can by any means appease the outrageous multitude. Nevertheless, the cause itself is oppressed. He saw undoubtedly Demetrius' malice, and how he had troubled the city, abusing the pretense of religion for his own private gain; but he toucheth not that wound which he knew to be unknown to the unskillful. Nevertheless, to the end he may stay the uproar and contention, he extolleth the reigned power of Diana, and maintaineth her superstitious worship. If Paul had been in the common place at that time, he would rather have suffered death an hundred times than have suffered himself to be delivered from danger paying so dear for it. For though the town-clerk had not been by him commanded to speak thus, yet it should have been treacherous dissimulation in a public witness and preacher of heavenly doctrine. The scribe affirmeth that the image which the Ephesians did worship came down from heaven, and that Paul and his companions spake no blasphemy against their goddess. Could he have holden his peace, but he must needs by his silence have allowed his false excuse? And this had been to shake hands with idolatry. Therefore, it was not without cause that Luke said before that Paul was kept back by the brethren, and not suffered to enter into the common place [theater].

37. Men which are neither church-robbers. He doth both truly and well deny that they be church-robbers; but he doth shortly after falsely define the kind of church-robbery to speak blasphemously against Diana. For seeing that all superstition is profane and polluted, it followeth that those be sacrilegious persons who translate the honor which is due to God alone unto idols. But the wisdom of the town-clerk, and that carnal, is here commended, and not his godliness. For he had respect unto this alone to extinguish the heat of the uproar; and therefore doth he at length conclude, if Demetrius have any private matter, there be judgment-seats and magistrates. And that public affairs must be handled in a lawful, and not in a disordered assembly -- in an assembly gathered by the commandment of the magistrates, and not in a concourse which is without consideration, run together through the motion of one man, and to satisfy his appetite. He calleth them deputies, in the plural number, not that Asia had more than one, but because legates did sometimes keep courts in the place of the deputies. Also, he appeaseth them by putting them in fear, because the deputy had occasion offered to punish and fine the city sore.

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